Posted tagged ‘Houston Astros’

Sweet Spot Blog: NL Central has got some upgrades on the mound

February 28, 2011

Via Sweet Spot Blog:

In 2010, the NL Central finished the season with only six of the top 40 starting pitchers based on ERA. Three of those pitchers belonged to one team, the St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia.) The other three were Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez (Houston Astros) and Johnny Cueto (Reds). This means the Cubs, Pirates and Brewers were without a starter in the top 40 ERA’s in the league by the end of 2010. The potential was there, but it was never realized. Fast forward to 2011 …

The Brewers made the first move this offseason when they picked up Zack Greinke in a trade with the Royals. They gave up little for what will be their staff ace. FanGraphs projects Greinke’s 2011 stats to be about 14-15 wins and an ERA in the mid 3.00’s. The Brew Crew did not stop there, acquiring Shawn Marcum, who cobbled together a nice 2010 for Toronto in the tough AL East after missing all of 2009. These two additions, along with future Cy Young candidate Yovani Gallardo make the Brewers a contender for the NL Central crown in 2011.

The Cubs’ offseason answer to their pitching staff questions came in a trade with Tampa Bay. Matt Garza was acquired in exchange for a slew of prospects. While the big question is how Garza will fair in Wrigley, it goes without saying he is an upgrade, and makes a fine middle-of-the-rotation addition. FanGraphs projects something like 11 wins and a high 3.00 to low 4.00 ERA. He gives the Cubs a very solid top three along with Ryan Dempster and a “newly cured” Carlos Zambrano. What if Randy Wells can get his 2009 form back? Any Cubs fan can tell you that 2010’s failure came from a lack of offense. If this staff gets even a hint of support, the NL Central is well within reach.

We can’t discuss the Cubs without touching on the Cardinals. Year in and year out the Cardinals seem to have pitching, or at least starting pitching. Yes, Wainwright is gone for the 2011 season, and while this is a big blow, I don’t see it being the end of their 2011 season. Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are unbelievable at squeezing water from a stone. Duncan got production from Todd Wellemeyer for crying out loud. Every year the duo of La Russa and Duncan seems to pull a starting pitcher out of a hat. I am sure somebody will fall in place to pick up at least some of the wreckage left behind by Wainwright’s injury. They still have Carpenter and Garcia to lean on. Let’s also not forget the sinkerball pitcher, Jake Westbrook, who I am sure Duncan will turn into a Cy Young candidate before long. Oh yes, the Cardinals are still in the hunt … even when they lose their best pitcher.

The sneakiest staff might be Houston’s. Rodriguez and Myers will once again anchor this staff. Don’t count out J.A. Happ, as he fit in nicely coming over from the Phillies in a trade last season. While I don’t see the Astros contending this year, mostly because of their offensive woes and bullpen, these three guys make for a nice base to a starting staff. Rodriguez and Myers were both in the top 40 ERA’s for starting pitchers last year, and Happ has the stuff to be included in that conversation someday, too.

Alongside these teams sit the Cincinnati Reds. Youth would be the operative word here. The potential in this starting rotation is enormous for 2011 and beyond. Yes, Bronson Arroyo is 33, but after that you have Edison Volquez (28), Cueto (25) , Homer Bailey (25) and a fifth starter in Travis Wood (24) or Mike Leake (23). There is also the tease that Cuban fireballer Aroldis Chapman (22) might one day become a starter. With the exception of Chapman and possibly Wood, all of these pitchers have seen significant success at the major league level in a starting role. The only thing keeping the Reds from a return to the playoffs is the fact that every team in the division upgraded with exception to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The NL Central has always had a few good pitchers sprinkled about its rosters. What’s new to the past decade is the depth of each team’s starting staff, not to mention the potential for more in the future. While the Astros, and more so the Pirates, have some ground to make up in this category, the remaining four teams are finding strength and depth from their starters.

…This division will be very interesting because there will be three teams in the race for first and then the Astros will be competitive and then the Pirates will try to ruin teams playoff chances. But overall, the pitching in this division is sick. I think right now the Brewers have a one up because of their three #1 starters in Gallardo, Grienke, and Marcum. Second is the Reds with their young core listed above and then Third is the Cardinals who recently lost Wainwright for the year. But fans, do not give up on the Cardinals. They always find a way to win. They might find another Jeff Weaver, Joel Pineiro, or even a Jeff Suppan. You don’t know. Maybe for the Cubs, Zambrano and Garza can win 20 each and become super stars. You can never just predict what can happen in any given major league season. Look at the Padres last year. You know? That is why it is so interesting to see how it will be. I am excited to watch the Brewers and Reds this year because I know they basically have the same team and strategy over the past few years. Hey, we might even have a Dontrelle Willis sighting in Cincinnati…

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MLB Trade Dealine Deals

August 2, 2010

The MLB Trade Deadline approached yesterday and there were many deals that improved teams and many teams that didn’t feel like they needed to make any moves by the end of 4 PM eastern time mark. This deadline comes at a time where a team notices the weaknesses they have and try to make themselves better and win more games by bringing in new players. Here were some deals that went down…

Angels get Dan Haren from the D’backs for Saunders and prospects

Hurt Tigers get Johnny Peralta’s bat from the lowly Indians

Phillies make a huge deal and get another Roy in Roy Oswalt

Padres pick up much-needed veteran bat in Miguel Tejada

Rangers get First Base help with deal for Jorge Cantu

Twins give up top hitting prospect Wilson Ramos for Nationals Closer Matt Capps

Chicago White Sox pick up pitching arm in Edwin Jackson from the D-backs

St. Louis Cards pick up needed Starting pitcher in Jake Westbrook from Indians.

Yankees get another All Star in Astros Lance Berkman for prospects

Dodgers make big deal and get Scott Podsednick, Ted Lilly, and Octavio Dotel

Braves get Royals Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth for Triple A prospects

Yankees pick up Austin Kearns and Reliever Kerry Wood for more prospects.

…Those are a lot of deals but from all of these deals there are a few things in common. The Astros are in rebuilding mode because they gave up their franchise pitcher and the final Bee of the Astros original Bee squad in Berkman. But in return they didn’t get that much. They received J.A. Happ who will pan out nicely but I don’t think he will ever become what Roy Oswalt has done for that Franchise and Berkman has always been a great bat and a great team leader that will now be missed a lot by fans. It is sad to see them go. But give kudos to the Phillies and the Yankees who got themselves great players to make deep runs in October…

…Another team that dumped a lot of players is the Indians. They have given up so much. From Lee to Sabathia to now pretty much the starting lineup and the bullpen. They must really be making a huge change and try to come with a result like the Padres have done this year. Get younger and play with more toughness and maybe that will get you wins. But there is a big mess in Cleveland counting back the days to when a guy named Lebron chose to go somewhere else. The only good part of their season is to see rookie catcher Carlos Santana destroy the ball and become hopefully the next Victor Martinez that was once on the club…

…My favorite team that really made great deals was the Texas Rangers. To get Lee, Cantu, Molina, and Guzman it makes this team so much deeper. They hit every single whole they had and made some great deals. Lee will be great and is making a difference already, Cantu is giving them a consistent hitter in the lineup for a team that didn’t have that at first base, Molina is giving them help with his bat and working with the young pitching staff, and Guzman helps on the base to help out Kinsler, Young, and mentor Elvis Andrus. They really get an A+ for this deadline and watch out everyone, the Rangers are looking to do some damage…

…Finally, The Yankees just keep adding. This is why the sports world calls them the Bankees. They just added Berkman as a DH. Like that was the biggest of their worries? Berkman is a top 10 player in the NL and now is the 6th best player on the Yankees. They also have a guy named Mark Teixeira at first base so it’s so confusing. They also get a power bat in Kearns and arm in Kerry Wood for basically nothing. It is really unfair to the game and something needs to change. This is why everyone routs for the Padres because they have the lowest payroll but are still in first place. Wins don’t come with money, the come with heart and who has got it more. But for the Yankees the dollar bill is more important and it always has…

 For more information on the MLB and the recent Trade Deadline go to ESPN.com and MLB.com